My recent move has set my life off-kilter. I’m a creature of habit and routine; it offers me a false sense of control. Even when I know change is necessary, I don’t really like it. There’s comfort in keeping things the same, kind of like how a person who is depressed finds comfort, so to speak, in sadness simply because happiness is so foreign.
The day I decided to introduce my cat to the new place, my anxiety was palpable. She immediately picked up on the fact that something was different…something was about to change. Not even her favorite treats could lure her into my car. She spent the 10-minute drive crying like a newborn, and never quite settled once we got there. I understood her meows like she was sending her sentiments to me telepathically: “I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. Where are we? What is this place? Why are we here? Can’t we go back? Please, let’s go back.”
It broke my heart. Honestly. But something dawned on me then: She was “voicing” to me what she knew I was feeling. I didn’t like the change any more than she did. We were both ill-at-ease like we’d just walked through Alice’s looking glass.
“It’ll be OK,” I assured her, rather unconvincingly. She replied with what I can only assume was a sad meow, crawled onto my lap, and joined me as I surveyed our new place.
I’ve been looking online for tips on how to adapt to change in as painless a way as possible. Here are some of the best ones I found:
- Look for the benefits of this new change, no matter how minor they may seem. Maybe your move will bring you closer to a new and amazing restaurant. Maybe your new job will teach you some skills that will come in handy. Maybe the end of your relationship will give you a chance to work on yourself…or give you more time to sit in front of the TV in your underwear eating chips – whichever you prefer.
- Try as much as possible to be optimistic – honestly. Oh so clichéd, I know. But thinking negatively about a situation is only going to make you feel like crap. The change sucks and you’re not happy about it, but sitting there moping is not going to help in any way. Just don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the trap of negativity, or you’ll have a hard time getting out of it. A positive attitude will make you feel better, and could potentially draw more things to you to be happy about. (FYI: After spending a couple of weeks wallowing in negativity, the universe decided to give me a nice cosmic kick in the butt: I broke the heel on my shoe, hit my head getting into my car, and almost got a very expensive ticket – all in a span of 10 minutes. I interpreted it as the universe’s way of saying, “Keeping thinking crappy thoughts and I’ll just keep sending you more crappy stuff.” Needless to say, I listened, and started to change my thoughts to something more positive.).
- Accept that there’s going to be some element of stress – give yourself time to adjust. My cat made this clear when she spent the first few days hiding in the closet or other various nooks and crannies. She was taking her time to get used to the new sounds and smells. Give yourself time to adapt to a change and recognize that despite the upheaval, things will feel more comfortable with time.
- Don’t be afraid to turn to others for support. Whether it’s family, friends, or an online community, make good use of the advice and support that others can offer (incidentally, research we conducted on happy people indicates that Social Support happens to be one of the most common coping mechanisms they use). For the first month after my move, I had a regular parade of friends and family coming over to keep me company.
- Try to maintain some aspect of your old routine. Despite the fact that I have a shiny and brand spanking new kitchen table, that isn’t going to change my routine of eating my dinner while sitting on the couch and watching TV. Strangely enough, I find it rather comforting. Many changes will require you to modify your routine or lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean that you need to relinquish all your old habits.